ADV Films // 1986 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Gutierrez (Retired) // July 22nd, 2004
"It isn't easy to stop a Bronze Knight, dude!" -- Hyoga, the Swan Knight
Knights of the Zodiac: The Fire of the Phoenix (Volume 4) is the latest installment in the Zodiac saga. Originally aired in Japan during the 1980s, the years have not been kind to the Zodiac Knights.
A tournament sponsored by Princess Sienna is held where the world's greatest armored fighters do battle for a set of armor. One warrior, Seiya, fights to win a chance to see his long lost sister again. Channeling the power of the Pegasus, Seiya makes his way up the tournament ladder. Unfortunately for Seiya, other warriors with motives as equally pure or darkly evil stand in his way. Seiya makes uneasy allies with other Bronze Knights.
Fourth in the series, this entry features the following episodes:
"Dual of the Dragons" -- This episode picks up where Knights of the Zodiac: Out of the Arena (Volume 3) left off. The Black Dragon Knight faces off against the Shiryu, the Green Dragon Knight. Andromeda struggles to save Pegasus from falling and succumbing to the darkness enveloping him. In a turn of events that still I still can't piece together, the Black Dragon Knight sacrifices his power to the Green Knight, out of admiration for the Green Knight's loyalty to his friends. Terrible. Thankfully, viewers are given a lesson in acupuncture when the Dragon Knight looks for Pegasus's "star points" in order to heal him. (Grade: 5)
"Defeat of the Phantom Demon" -- The Phoenix squares off against the Andromeda, Dragon, Pegasus, and Swan Knights. In order to save his brother, Andromeda betrays his fellow knights when they move in for the final blow. After discovering Phoenix receives his power from the Phantom Demon, the Pegasus Knight uses the power of the other knights to defeat him. It appears the series is making some strides. (Grade: 20)
"Phoenix's Secret Revealed" -- In an extended flashback, we learn what happens when a child is reared in a place called the Isle of Doom. More flashbacks ensue, as we find out why Phoenix went from loveable orphan to cold-hearted player hater. While the previous episode lets the viewer think the show might be going somewhere, the series takes a huge leap backwards with the introduction of new villain, Docrates, arriving with black robed operatives of his own. The Bronze Knights and the Phoenix team up to fight the new big bad. Sadly, they fail to stop his minions from making off with most of the Golden Cloth armor. (Grade: 0)
"Docrates' Fierce Attack" -- New major villain Docrates makes a fierce attack on the world. Marie and Shima from Knights of the Zodiac: Battle of the Bronze Knights (Volume 1) face off. In a desperate ploy to get the missing piece of the Golden Cloth armor, Docrates closes Volume Four with a cliffhanger, when he kidnaps Princess Sienna and holds her for ransom. (Grade: 0)
Like the calendar, the Zodiac saga cycles endlessly. The series feels like a video game, when it moves from one villain to the next. It just doesn't feel like this series is going to wrap up anytime soon. I don't know the history of this series, so I've no idea how many episodes are left. One can only hope a mere handful remains. Will this story ever end? While we've left the actual arena of the wrestling ring, the same story structure remains in place for every episode. The protagonist will fight an enemy and lose, then remember something in the form of flashbacks, remind the viewer of what the character just remembered through a long soliloquy, and finally defeat their enemy.
As I've noted in reviews for the first three volumes of this DVD train, the acting is the weakest aspect of the series. Characters don't sound like they're from Rome or Siberia or any other part of the planet outside of Los Angeles and possibly Canada. It's most painful to watch and listen to, especially when one of the characters is wounded. I hurt more than they do.
Visually, the DVD looks its age. It has a soft and grainy image and lacks any sharpness. The audio mix is adequate, as its been recorded recently, but it's not setting the world on fire.
No extras for this DVD. As with the other volumes in the Knights of the Zodiac DVD series, the only added feature is a batch of trailers for other ADV releases and a commercial for Knights of the Zodiac action figures. A card from the role playing game comes along with the DVD, for those RPG fans out there.
At least it's easy to keep up with the series. Every episode begins with an extended explanation of events that came before. For those that want to skip the theme song, a viewer can fast-forward to the second chapter and actually begin the episode.
Fans of repetitive American changed anime can rejoice. It doesn't look like this series is making any leaps soon.
Avoid this. This is the worst Knights of the Zodiac installment yet.
Knights of the Zodiac: The Fire of the Phoenix (Volume 4) is sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Gutierrez; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Studio Trailers
* Official Knights of the Zodiac Site
* Review of Volume One
* Review of Volume Two
* Review of Volume Three